Intel 'Turbo Memory' tries to speed up Windows

The newest version of the chipmaker's Turbo Memory is trying to do what the Vista operating system doesn't do inherently.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Intel's newest version of Turbo Memory is trying to do what Windows doesn't do: transparently optimize Windows for flash memory storage.

At the Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, Calif., Intel will be demonstrating its latest version of Turbo Memory based on flash memory to accelerate application performance in Windows.

Intel Turbo Memory dashboard
Intel Turbo Memory dashboard Intel

Intel is offering a "dashboard" for Windows that allows the user to choose and control which applications or files are loaded into the Intel Turbo Memory cache (based on flash memory chips) for performance acceleration. Intel calls this "User pinning."

Custom pinning profiles can be created to pin applications or files that match the user's activity, according to Intel. Data intensive programs, gaming, digital media editing and productivity software are examples of applications that will see the most benefit, according to Intel.

Intel is trying to address a longstanding shortcoming of Windows: its inability to take full advantage of flash storage devices. "There are issues related to taking full advantage of the speed of a (flash drive)," said Troy Winslow, marketing manager for the NAND Products Group at Intel, in an interview at the Flash Memory Summit.

Avi Cohen, managing partner at Avian Securities, said he believes this should be an innate part of the operating system. "The more interesting way is to have it built into the operating system," said Cohen. "I don't think it gains much traction because I don't think users want to sit there and start selecting what goes where," he said. "It was a valiant effort by Intel to accelerate the move toward solid state on PC," Cohen added.

Winslow, however, said that Intel "has shipped million of units" of Turbo Memory and that he expects some notebook makers to integrate it into high-end lines.

Interestingly, Windows Vista does have a feature called "ReadyBoost" that can "use storage space on some removable media devices, such as USB flash drives, to speed up your computer," according to Microsoft documentation. This documentation can also be found in "Windows Help and Support" as part of any copy of Vista.

"When you insert a compatible device, the AutoPlay dialog box will offer you the option to speed up your system using Windows ReadyBoost," the Microsoft documentation says.

In related news, Intel announced a new Z-P230 PATA (Parallel ATA) SSD drive that comes in 4 gigabyte (GB) and 8GB capacities, with a 16GB version following in September. Pricing is $25 for the 4GB version for 1,000 unit quantities and $45 for 1,000 unit quantities for the 8GB version.